It’s Because We Love This Place.

It’s Because We Love This Place.

Opinion – According to an article circulating by Matthew DeFour this morning, the DNR is talking about raising camping and sticker fees for Devil’s Lake and other popular state parks again. They are also bringing back up the idea of corporate sponsorship.  You can read the article here.

OK, so I could rail on about this new info. I mean, raising the rates again at Devil’s Lake State Park does seem to unfairly target local residents. The city of Baraboo & Sauk Prairie should be concerned about the impact another rate hike could have on our citizens access to the park and our local economy. I could also say that the quote I read “It is possible the fee increase may meet consumer price resistance, but as past examples have shown, the resistance is usually for a short period,” Sounds a bit like, “Let them eat cake”. But this back and forth between the DNR and the state’s citizens seems more like a lack of communication and understanding the park users point of view. The picture at the top of this blog on the other hand makes everything clear.

This morning just after dawn, while walking the West Bluff, I came across a message written in the snow. “Hi! (Heart) Love This Place!”.  In the snow, overlooking the foggy cliff edge, someone exclaimed an idea every park user shares! That’s the reason we question the DNR. We’ve read, seen and experienced a lot in the last few years and here we go again. We’re rightfully concerned. In this day of instant feedback social media, it seems it couldn’t be more obvious and yet it feels like it’s not getting through.

You see, when newspapers, environmentalists and even silly bloggers like me comment, there’s a reason..

You’re talking about OUR park. We Love This Place.

When you talk about de-credentialing rangers, we worry about our safety and the added risk of crime and drugs. Without details, this sounds bad.

We’re concerned. We Love This Place!

When you suggest raising fees (Again!) which will hurt those of us who live right here. Each parent, each child, each school that uses this local park. If the fees go too high, only the wealthy will be able to use the park. What about the locals? What about low-income families that need the opportunity? What about the fact that our kids need to get outside now more than ever?

You have to remember, We Love This Place!

When we are concerned about Parfrey’s Glen or Pewit’s Nest being damaged, polluted or over-run it’s not because we’re whiners…

It’s because, We Love This Place.

When we send in comment cards and complain overflowing dumpsters, dirty bathrooms or loose dogs on the beaches, we’re not being jerks. We’re asking for a pleasant stay.

We Love This Place.

When people complain about the state of the trails today it’s not to point fingers or get anyone in trouble. We don’t always know the who, what and whys of park maintenance. We just know things need to be done. Heck, we’ll help if we can! We can’t let our park slide…

We Love This Place. 

When we talk about invasive plants spreading or too much foot traffic eroding the cliff’s edges it’s not because we’re “crazy environmentalists”. Slow down, walk around, just look. It sneaks up on you!! This stuff is slowly destroying the beauty of our parks. We’re not grumpy or “b*tchy” weirdos.

We Love This Place. 

I could go on, but you get my drift. You see, those decisions that the DNR is making in this “reorganization” are not decisions behind a “Thin-Green-Line” about “their parks”. They are decisions within a democracy by the “custodians of OUR parks”. We have a vested interest as the owners of our public lands to be engaged in the discussion. Decisions made in government offices must be in the best interest of our local park, our enviroment, our visitors, our tourism industry, our community and all of our citizens. And when we get upset about being fobbed off or kept out-of-the-loop, when emails go unanswered, when the care of our public spaces are not up to snuff, you need to expect and respect our concern.  How can we not speak up?

I hope you make good choices. I realize the parks are in a tough spot, but let me give you this one guiding thought after working at this park long ago and running this website for 20 years; I’ve talked to a lot of people about Devil’s Lake State Park and there’s one thing that’s perfectly clear in every voice and every word…

We Love This Place. 

That visceral connection with our parks will inform how the public responds to decisions you make. And if you are authentic, if you look like you care too, if you address public concerns directly & respectufully, they may cut you some slack along the way.

Disclaimer: And of course, my crazy opinions are my own and often caused by too many hours of isolation in the deep dark woods. My posts certainly don’t represent the opinions of the Wisconsin DNR, any person or any other group, organization or book club.

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